If the solar scientists are right, we might be seeing decades of much lower solar activity after the peak of this rather anemic sunspot cycle.
The previous two periods of low solar activity, the Maunder and Dalton Minimums, led us the what is called the Little Ice Age. It wasn't until the early 1800's that solar activity picked up again and ended the Little Ice Age. These types of solar minimums have created havoc worldwide and one such minimum that ended the Medieval Warm Period may have helped usher in the Black Plague in Europe which wiped out from one-third to one-half of the population. Agriculture suffered and previously habitable lands became too cold to grow crops or raise livestock, like Greenland or Newfoundland. (Yes, Greenland was once green. The Vikings had settled, farmed, and thrived there for over 400 years before the Little Ice Age made it impossible for them to survive there.)
Scientists have studied sunspots and the sun's 11-year activity cycle for 400 years, and they're getting increasingly savvy about spotting the harbingers of "space weather" years in advance, just as meteorologists can figure out what's coming after the next storm.
Storms from the sun are expected to build to a peak in 2013 or so, but after that, the long-range indicators are pointing to an extended period of low activity — or even hibernation.
Somehow the AGW folks have convinced themselves we'd be better off with a colder world despite having not one shred of evidence to support their beliefs and plenty of evidence to the contrary. They can choose to ignore the possibility that a warmer world would be better, with the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods giving us a good indication of that.
The peak of present sunspot cycle - Cycle 24 - is expected in 2013, and it's expected to be a particularly weak one. But wait, there's more!
The solar activity upswing at the start of Cycle 24 was almost 2 years late, and what activity we have seen is far below that seen in Cycles 23, 22, and 21, with Cycle 23 having been one of the most energetic in centuries. Is it a coincidence that Earth's climate warmed during that period? Is it a coincidence that the climate on Mars, and Jupiter's and Saturn's moons also warmed during that same period?
All these signs suggest that the current solar cycle, Cycle 24, "may be the last one for quite some time," Hill said. The next upswing in solar storms, Cycle 25, may be "very much delayed ... very weak, or may not happen at all."